Editor’s Note: Lauren Jones, a third-year student majoring in English and Economics, is about to embark on Semester at Sea and has agreed to blog about her experience. This is the first entry.
When I started college at U.Va., I had zero intentions to study abroad. It seemed like something other people did – a nice idea, but an impractical one when you look at the price tag. I thought: Would a few months outside of the U.S. really be worth all the trouble you have to go through to get there? I was already making a major life transition by coming to Virginia from a small town in central Illinois, and going to college a thousand miles from home was already feeling like a study abroad experience to me – so why go any farther?
Two and a half years later, I’m here in San Diego, getting ready to board a bus to Mexico that will take me to the MV Explorer, a giant passenger ship, or “floating university,” ready to sail to 11 different countries around the world. I’ve spent the last days of winter break attempting to fit four months worth of stuff into a suitcase and two carry-ons…
…And now I’m almost ready to embark.
Over these past two years I’ve learned a lot about how your time at college shapes you as a person. The people I’ve met and the opportunities I’ve found at U.Va. influenced my decision to not just study abroad, but to go on Semester at Sea – a totally unique, multi-country study abroad experience.
I came from a high school with about a 95 percent Caucasian population. While I didn’t have a lot of exposure to people from other countries, I found that U.Va. attracts students from all over the world – and even now its international enrollment is growing! The friendships I’ve made here with international students have sparked my curiosity as to what the rest of the world is like – what do people from completely unfamiliar cultures believe, value, and practice? And how can that impact my understanding of humanity, and the way the world works? These questions, paired with a couple very persuasive Semester at Sea alumni and an awesome financial aid package, helped me realize that a crazy trip around the world like Semester at Sea didn’t just have to be something other people did – it could be something that I can do.
I landed in San Diego International Airport this afternoon, where I’m staying the night at a hotel and will be boarding a bus to take to the ship in Mexico tomorrow. I met up with a bunch of other students as soon as I made it to the hotel – there are about 700 students in the city tonight ready to embark. And the majority of us don’t have close ties to anyone else on the voyage, which means lots of new friendships will be made!
On board the ship, I’ll be taking 12 credit hours of classes, with my major courses in English (Travelers and Visionaries) and economics (Development Economics) along with a religion class and an acting class. All classes are taught with a “global perspective,” meaning they’re designed to provide an academic grounding for the countries we’re about to visit. Each class also includes a required field activity for students to complete in one of the countries. In my Religions of the World class, for example, I’ll be spending one of my days in India visiting six different places of worship with my class, including Islamic mosques, Hindu and Buddihist temples, a Christian church and a Jewish synagogue – and then write a paper about it.
Though I was initially wary of even leaving the Midwest, my time learning and growing at U.Va. has given me the desire to go even farther. I am blessed, thankful, and PUMPED to begin this adventure, and I look forward to writing about it along the way. First stop, Hawaii!
Here’s the Spring 2014 Semester at Sea itinerary:
- Embark: Ensenada, Mexico 1/10
- Hawaii – 1/17
- Japan 1/29 – 2/3
- China 2/6 – 2/11
- Vietnam 2/14 – 2/19
- Singapore 2/22 – 2/23
- Burma 2/27 – 3/4
- India 3/9 – 3/14
- Mauritius 3/21
- South Africa 3/28 – 4/2
- Ghana 4/10 – 4/14
- Morocco 4/23 – 4/27
- Debark: Southampton, United Kingdom 5/2
- + a few free days in Europe to go wherever I choose!
- Return home: 5/8
Saturday Night Live’s newest cast member is none other than 2008 University of Virginia graduate Sasheer Zamata, NBC announced Monday.
Like Tina Fey ’92, Sasheer is a graduate of the Drama Department in the College of Arts & Sciences. Congratulations Sasheer!
Photo by Cate Hellman / sasheer.com
University of Virginia School of Law students students recently acted and produced a radio drama for Professor John Setear’s “An American Half-Century” class
From the Law School’s Facebook page:
“The production, which strives to be historically accurate, describes what happened after Secretary of State Henry Kissinger sought to avoid a superpower showdown and to reach a ceasefire to end the 1973 Yom Kippur War between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria.
Second-year law student Max Corey, who took the course in a previous semester, wrote the script in connection with a class project.
The drama, “DEFCON Rising: The Yom Kippur War Ceasefire,” can be heard here.
The “Christmas Jammies” video put together by 1996 College of Arts & Sciences grad Penn Holderness and his family has been viewed more than 12 million times this week, so you may have seen it by now:
Holderness and family have done national media appearances about the video, and the philosophy graduate is also about to leave his job as a news anchor in Raleigh, N.C., to work with his wife at Greenroom Communications.
Penn agreed to answer a few questions via email and talked about what the experience has been like, how they put the video together, and the best route to take to Scott Stadium for a football game.
Q: What inspired your family to do the video?
A: We did it last year as well! It was the same basic thing: we sang a song in our front yard and told everyone about the fam. That one was inspired by two things:
1) Our kids would not sit still for a picture and
2) It was the week of Newtown. Kim and I had a kindergartener and were super depressed. The video helped get us out of the funk. Our friends loved the video and requested another one. Because we knew I was quitting my anchor job to make our own video company, we kind of tried to make it better, and hopefully more shareable, because we wanted to do that as a business.
Q: How long did it take to put all that together?
A: About a week working here and there. The front yard shoot about an hour, the shot in front of the Christmas tree about 15 minutes. The shots around town took a couple hours. We had to do it in stints because we didn’t want to burn out my kids. It took me about two hours to write the song, but most of the work was editing – maybe six hours for that.
Q: What’s it been like to have it go viral, do national media appearances, etc.?
A: Bizarre. We’ve gotten calls from basically everyone about doing an interview. My wife handled all those because she is way prettier and more interesting, and I still have a day job until January 3rd. It’s been 99 percent good: new opportunities, great way to reconnect with old friends (and alma maters!!). We’ve gotten some crazy calls for work already. Today a skydiving company in Vegas calls, they want to make a video, stuff like that. Also four production companies want us to do a reality show. Not sure about that one but who knows?
Q: What was your favorite thing about your time at U.Va.?
A: It’s so lame but I’ve gotta say football games. We always took the most circuitous route to Scott: through the Lawn, past a bar, through like five strangers’ tailgates. It was such a great way to meet people. I am a huge extrovert so those games were amazing for me. I studied at U.Va. (some not much), but more than anything it helped me meet extraordinary people.